Nells Point Coastwatch
Nells point Station is manned by a team of trained volunteers, who keep a watch over the Bristol Channel for the benefit of seafarers and coastal users
Our Mission. To assist in the protection and preservation of life at sea and along the UK coastline.
The National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) was set up in 1994 to restore a visual watch along the coast. Many small coastguard stations had been forced to close down but when two fishermen lost their lives off the Cornish coast directly below the abandoned coastguard lookout at Bass Point on the Lizard local people became concerned. Together they raised money to reopen the abandoned watch station and NCI was born. Today there are 37 operational Watch stations around the British coast, from Cornwall to Wearside.
NCI believes there is no substitute for a watchful pair of eyes. Whilst, high technology and sophisticated systems are aids to improved safety, a computer cannot spot a distress flare, an overturned boat or a yachtsman in trouble. Other vulnerable activities, diving, wind surfing, canoeing etc. are safer with visual surveillance.
Each NCI station is manned by a team of fully trained volunteers, keeping watch year round, during most daylight hours. Stations are equipped with telescopes, telephone, weather instruments, up to date charts and radar. Watch keepers are the eyes and ears along the coast, keeping a visual watch, monitoring radio channels and providing a listening watch in poor visibility.
NCI watch keepers are trained to deal with emergencies and report directly to the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA). A log is kept of all activities and local weather conditions passed on to those at sea. All NCI stations aim to acquire Declared Facility Status in order to become an integral part of the National Search and Rescue Organisation. Watchkeepers offer a wide variety of skills and experience and full training ensures that the high standards set by both the NCI and MCA are met. A regular commitment is essential and there are currently over 1,400 volunteers (10% of them women) keeping watch. NCI offers at least 126,000 hours of organised coastal surveillance, and are actively involved in over 100 serious incidents per year at no cost to the public!
Funding is controlled by a Board of Trustees with a constitution agreed by the Charities Commission and relies heavily on local support. It can cost, on average, around £18,000 to set up a new station and approximately £3,500 a year to run it. NCI plans to open 3-4 new stations each year for the next three years and work continues on this project and the necessary funding to achieve it.
Accidents will always happen at sea but wherever there is an NCI station, ‘Eyes along the Coast’ will be looking out for danger.
You can make out the Coastwatch station in this aerial photo. The little white building on the point.